Bottling Two Beers

Yesterday I bottled two beers: my Wicked Winter Ale and the last of my imperial stout.

The Wicked Winter Ale had a FG of 1.006 putting it slightly over 5% abv. I was kind of surprised given that the OG was less that 1.050, but it fermented down below 1.010 so $. I used 3.75 oz dextrose for priming and added an ounce of raspberry flavoring. I want this ready by Christmas, so doing a secondary with puree or real fruit would have held me back. I ended up with forty-eight bottles.

Afterwards I bottled the remainder of my imperial stout which I had been aging on oak cubes for almost 5 months. The FG was 1.014 which gives me a 9.7% abv. I used 1.875 oz dextrose for priming and got 14 bottles and 2 bombers. Damn this tastes pretty awesome.

On a different note, the Basil IPA still tastes horrible. I added gelatin to the keg, transferred it to a different corny and added some basil extract I had made. No go. I guess you can’t get rid of band aid flavor.

On to the next. I took some mint from my back yard and added it to some medium toast oak cubes and whiskey in a 6 oz jar. I will use this in a couple of months to age an amber ale.

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Winter Ale 2015

20151025_090641Time to brew up my Wicked Winter Ale  using my base red ale grain bill. This is an homage to Pete’s Wicked Winter which has long been out of production. I ended up getting 32 quarts in the mash tun. On the third vorlauf, I got a gravity reading with the hydrometer of 1.032 at 135 deg F and 1.043 with the refractometer. I decided to lower the amount of nutmeg this year to 1 tsp, and I used fresh ground. Unfortunately, I only ended up with starting gravity of 1.047.

  • 5/8 oz Fuggles (5.3% AA) at 60 min
  • 3/8 oz East Kent Goldings (5.7% AA) at 60 min
  • 5/8 oz East Kent Goldings (5.7% AA) at 0 min
  • 2 tsp cinnamon at 0 min
  • 1 tsp nutmeg at 0 min


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Basil IPA 2015

I got the recipe from Homebrew Talk Forums. It is on I’ve done and blogged about many years before, but the post has been lost to HBTF’s blogging format change. I had saved a bottle for several month’s after it was first ready and it received some rave revies at a homebrew club. This is the first time I’ve tried to repeat the recipe. Originally I had used fresh basil from my backyard that I had just torn of the plants and thrown into the boil. However, I’ve been having a difficult time growing basil, so for this recipe I used local organic basil that came in a box. Some basil lime hand soap also inspired me to add lime zest to the wort. I forgot to properly identify the types of grain that I bought at Brew & Grow, but I did record their codes. I am planning to have this ready for HoPS! Oktoberfest at the end of September.

11# Two row
1.5# Honey malt ? (Brew & Grow #129)
1.5# Victory malt ? (Brew & Grow #105)

Hop and spice schedule

  • 2 oz. Northern Brewer (7%) FWH
  • 1 oz. Cascade (5.7%) 30 min
  • 1 oz. Cascade (5.7%) 15 min
  • 1 oz. fresh basil leaves 15 min
  • 0.5 oz. Amarillo () 8 min
  • 5/8 oz. fresh basil leaves 8 min
  • 0.5 oz. Amarillo () 2 min
  • 1 oz. fresh basil leaves 2 min
  • 1 lime, zested 2 min

I ended up with a final gravity in the 1.050-1.051 range, and pitched London Ale yeast.

Update (10/25): I left the fermenter on the first floor for a day after brewing. It was a hot day, so I moved to the basement. Despite this move the vigorous fermentation still blew the air lock and made a mess. After 2 weeks I kegged it up and placed it in my slowly failing refridgerator. It ended up at 5% ABV and 68 IBUs.

The beer was served at Oktoberfest three weeks after kegging, but it had a very yeasty flavor to it and had a bit too much lime. A couple weeks afterwards a HoPS member had his own O-fest party with leftovers from the club event. My beer had a definite band-aid flavor likely the result of an out-of-control, too hot fermentation.

Right now I’m trying to fine what is left of it with gelatin. Tomorrow I’ll transfer it to another keg to see if that helps.

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Splitting the Imperial Stout

A few weeks ago I brewed up an imperial stout with a few problems. Today I am splitting it into four different versions of the beer.

I opened the small PET carboy that I used to hold the overflow from the fermentation disaster. The FG was 1.016. It smelled a little skunky and tasted a little sweet, but it definitely had alcohol. I racked almost 2 gallons into the bottling bucket and bottled 2 twenty-two (22) ounce bottles and 6 twelve (12) bottles of pure stout. The day before I had placed a third of a cup of espresso coffee into a jar and filled it with a cup of water. After the first round of bottling I poured this coffee mixture though a strainer into the bottling bucket. I managed to get two (22) ounce bottles and 4 twelve (12) bottles out of this.

I took a taste of the end of the bottling bucket and it had a great coffee flavor to it. That kind of flavor that’s evident in coffee stouts like Big Hugs. So, I think that ratio of 1/3 cup in 1 cup water to 1 gallon of beer is fantastic.

I then opened the main fermenter and got a FG of 1.016. There was no skunky taste and it was less sweet. I racked about 2 gallons into the PET bottle where I had placed some medium toast oak cubes that had been soaking in Dewars White Label. The other 2 gallons I racked into a new 3 gallon glass carboy and then dry-hopped with 0.5 oz. of Northern Brewer. I will bottle this dry-hopped version of the stout in about a week.

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Darkside Imperial Stout

I originally brewed up an imperial stout back in late 2009 or early 2010, but the blog posts have been lost to Homebrew Talk Forum’s changes. The recipe I used is in my recipe section, and I also added an entire jar of molasses. My intention was to make the darkest, most bitter stout imaginable. I’ve lost the hop scheduling, but I know it included generous helpings of Chinook, Columbus, and especially Magnum. The stout turned out to be rather bitter, but did not hit the imperial mark. In addition, the Magnum hops gave off an odd taste that I did not particularly care for. I managed to stretch the bottles out for quite some time and just finished that last one this past October.

For my second attempt at this stout, I decided to go big again … in more ways than one. I did backed off the bittering hops this time (scheduling below), and I decreased the black patent to 0.33# but raised the chocolate malt to 0.67#. My ambition lies in making a 6 gallon batch so that I could split this into three separate secondaries: one for coffee, one for oak aging and one for mint/dry-hopping. Because of the larger-that-normal grain bill, I could not use the no-sparge method. I got a gravity reading of 1.086 for the first runnings. After a sparge, I filled the brew kettle up to about 8 gallons. The gravity was in the 1.070s, so I added 22 oz dark DME and 0.5 cup brown sugar to the boil. I boiled this for 90 minutes.

  • 1 oz. Columbus (13%) first-wort-hopping
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings (5.7%) 50 min
  • 0.5 oz. Fuggles (4.5%) 30 min
  • 0.5 oz. Fuggles (4.5%) 15 min

Now after all of this work, the day almost went to shit. I’ve been on this kick of reusing yeast. Ecology, saving money, and improved fermentation are all factors in this choice. However, this requires additional planning and extra-strenuous brew days as I have to bottle and cool at the same time. This time I was going to bottle the pecan porter I brewed a month ago and dump the stout on the yeast cake. While I cooled down the wort with my immersion chiller, I bottled the porter.

After I was done bottling, I looked at the wort and noticed that it was closer to the top of the brew kettle than it was before I started bottling. This isn’t good. The intake tube is wider than it is supposed to be, and I usually have to try different position to make sure there is no leaking. However, while I was head-down bottling porter, I did not notice that a gallon of tap water had entered the wort. I did not want to believe this, so I checked the gravity and sure enough it was down to the 1.050s. After much cursing, my wife suggested I try to boil off some liquid. So at 8 PM, I split the wort into three separate pots and started boiling. Part way through this second boil I decided to hedge my bets and add about 2# of dry malt extract to the worts.

I managed to boil off pretty close to what I accidentally added during the cool down, and by about midnight I had filled the fermenter with about 6.5 gallons. The OG read 1.088. But wait; this isn’t over. Monday evening I get home from work and my wife warns me, “Don’t get upset.” I look at the fermenter and see that the top had blown halfway off and liquid is oozing down the side and onto the floor. I set about prepping a 3 gallon carboy and transferred about 2 gallons into it. There is much action in both air locks. I am definitely not going to give up on the beer. 😉

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Pecan Porter – Second Go

I originally brewed this recipe back in 2011. It turned out pretty good but there were two things that needed improvement. First, the pecan flavor was too subtle. I kept the pecans the same for this recipe because I am using a “no-sparge” method this time. With pecans in the mash for 3 times as long as last time, I figure this should get more flavor. Secondly, the head retention on the beer was very low. I was told that pecan oil causes this issue and that I should add some flaked barley. The recipe is below.

  • 8# Two row
  • 0.75# Chocolate
  • 0.75# Crystal 80L
  • 0.5# Munich
  • 0.16# Black Patent
  • 0.5# Torrified Wheat
  • 1# Roasted Pecans
  • 0.25# Flaked Barley
  • 0.55 oz Northern Brewer at 60 min
  • 0.45 oz Northern Brewer at 30 min

I was getting gravity 1.041 pre-boil, so I took gallon and a half leftover from mash and boiled it separately. I added this to the main brew pot at flame out. I ended up with gravity 1.049 and pitched Irish ale yeast.

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American Amber

Brewing up a hoppy American Amber. This is my favorite style especially when it get into the imperial range. I switched it up this time with Chinook for bittering instead of Columbus.

I used my base red ale recipe but included some extra 2-row for a total of 13# grain. The pre-boil gravity was 1.048. Here is my hop schedule.

  • .5 oz Chinook at 60 min
  • .5 oz Chinook at 30 min
  • .5 oz Cascade at 15 min
  • 1 oz Citra at 5 min
  • 1 bag backyard hops at 3 min

This amounts to about 63 IBUs. I dumped this on top of the yeast cake from the previous Backyard Pale Ale which was using a NW Pale Ale yeast. After two weeks I found yeast floating on top, and the sample tasted super bitter. The OG was 1.050, and the FG turned out to be 1.010. This amounted to ABV. I dry-hopped with 1 oz Citra.


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